The crash rate at this Olathe intersection is high. Here’s how the city will help

Elaine Adams
·6 min read

A new intersection being created in Olathe is the first of its kind for the Kansas City area.

At Old 56 Highway and Lone Elm Road, crews are working on a continuous-flow intersection, designed to move traffic faster and more safely.

Its most distinctive feature is a “displaced” turn lane used by drivers who are turning left from Old 56. Well before the main intersection, traffic signals and lane markings will guide left-turning vehicles across the opposing lanes of traffic and into their own turn lanes.

“Lone Elm and Old 56 Highway continues to see strong commercial development with additional growth expected,” the city said on its website. “There is a higher than average crash rate with a very high traffic count. The continuous flow intersection will help reduce the likelihood of traffic accidents.”

Thirty-four crashes occurred at the intersection from 2017 through 2020, Senior Project Manager Therese Vink said by email, with rear-end collisions accounting for more than two-thirds of them.

“Overall, on Lone Elm Road between U.S. 56 and 151st Street, the crash rate was 10% higher that the statewide average during that same period,” she said.

Engineers determined that over the next 25 years, the continuous flow design would provide the best overall traffic level of service at that location, Vink said. That’s a calculation that factors in things like safety, maneuverability, speed and travel time.

The design also minimizes the need for acquiring land, provides shorter and safer pedestrian crossings and works best with Dennis Avenue, which is only 500 feet north of Old 56.

On Old 56, the displaced turn lanes will allow left-turning vehicles to move at the same time as those going straight. Collision chances are reduced because left-turning vehicles don’t have to yield to oncoming traffic.

According to a Federal Highway Administration video, the continuous flow configuration allows an intersection to handle up to 70% more cars in a given time. And it reduces the time that drivers sit at red lights.

Traffic on Lone Elm will move in a more conventional way because the proximity of Dennis Avenue renders the unusual left turn lane impractical.

And on Old 56, life will be a little different for right-turning drivers. They will be stopped at a red light when left-turning drivers are coming the opposite way, Vink said, but can turn on red when that left-turning traffic clears.

In addition to the new design, the $11 million project will widen Lone Elm Road to a four-lane divided arterial between Old 56 Highway and 151st Street. Other improvements include a new storm sewer, more streetlights, bike lanes, new medians, traffic signals and pedestrian crossings.

New sculpture for Leawood

Later this month, Leawood will dedicate the 23rd three-dimensional piece in its public art collection.

“Women of the World,” by Kansas City artist Kwan Wu, will be dedicated at 4 p.m. April 23 at the Leawood Justice Center, 4205 Town Center Drive.

The city describes the sculpture as the centerpiece of the center’s courtyard. It depicts the earth held by two large hands and containing profiles representing women from around the world.

Wu, who maintains a studio Overland Park, studied at the Art Institute of Canton in Guangzhou, China. “Women of the World” was given to the city by Astoria Healthcare Properties LLC.

Rhodes Scholar hails from Blue Valley

A 2015 graduate of Blue Valley North High School is now a Rhodes Scholar who will pursue two master’s degrees starting next fall at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Vijay Ramasamy is a public health studies graduate of Johns Hopkins University. At Oxford, he intends to earn master’s degrees both in comparative social policy and in public policy.

Ramasamy has been involved in the Kansas COVID-19 reopening plan, an effort that reinforced his desire to work in public service.

“Vijay represents what we want all of our students to work towards: How can I take my talents and find a way to make the world better?” Tyson Ostroski, principal at Blue Valley North, said in a recent edition of the district magazine.

At Blue Valley North, Ramasamy was involved in debate, the school newspaper, student council and other activities.

“Receiving the Rhodes Scholarship was a testament to the village it takes to get to a moment like that, and a privilege to get to a moment like that,” Ramasamy said.

“My goal is to do whatever I can to give every child in this country the same sort of incredible opportunities I was given by going to Blue Valley schools, attending Johns Hopkins and working with the incredible people that I’ve worked with.”

Mission freshens its visual images

An updated website, launched on April 1, is the latest result of Mission’s rebranding initiative, which began last fall.

Another part of the rebranding is an updated city logo with a multi-colored crosshatch design consisting of converging arrows. The city said the logo depicts a crossroads where the different individuals and demographics can come together from across the area.

The design now appears on street lamp banners, on city vehicles and at the Powell Community Center. It’s coming to parks and to parks and other areas with city signage.

Parade of Homes starts April 24

More than 250 new homes will be open to visitors from April 24 to May 9 during the Spring Parade of Homes presented by the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City.

Prices range from $250,000 to $1.6 million, and the homes appear in single-family subdivisions as well as maintenance-provided communities.

Homes will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and admission is free. Visitors can find locations through a mobile app or in a free guide available at each home or the KCHBA offices at Interstate 435 and Holmes Road in south Kansas City.

Get details at KCParadeofHomes.com.

National Drug Take-Back Day

Several local agencies are participating in the 2021 National Drug Take-Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24, when residents can dispose of outdated or unwanted medications — no questions asked.

Overland Park routinely accepts medications at its two police stations, for example, but officers also will be accepting drugs during that time at seven grocery stores and the Walmart at 11701 Metcalf Ave.

Another disposal site is the Olathe Medical Center Pavilion at 21120 W. 152nd St. Find a location near your city at DEATakeBack.com.

Authorities say proper disposal of unneeded drugs protects the water supply and reduces the chance that the drugs will be stolen or otherwise abused.

K-7 work will close two ramps at 67th

Two Kansas 7 ramps will be closed through mid-September as crews make bridge deck repairs at 67th Street/Shawnee Mission Parkway in Shawnee.

The southbound K-7 to eastbound 67th Street ramp and the northbound K-7 to westbound 67th Street ramp will be closed throughout the project, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation. All other ramps will be open.

Now recruiting: Lenexa Community Orchestra

The Lenexa Community orchestra is looking for volunteer musicians to participate in the group’s fifth season. Especially needed are those who play cello, violin, bass, viola or percussion instruments.

The orchestra, led by conductor Richard Ryan, plans to hold indoor concerts this summer on July 17, July 31 and Aug. 14. Other volunteer spots also are available. Sign up by May 30 through the parks & recreation page at lenexa.com.